Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Megaranger : an amazing sentai series
1997: the year Megaranger aired in Japan. Megaranger is known as the series which has been adapted into one of the most popular Power Rangers series, Power Rangers In Space. However, Megaranger is a pretty amazing series on its own. Its themes are digital technology and spaceships, which are required for dealing with satellites involved in those technologies. Megaranger was notable since during its run, Super Sentai changed timeslots to air in Sunday mornings, and, starting with episode 8, episodes would be 30 minutes (incuding commercials) instead of 25 minutes long. Megaranger was produced by Shigenori Takatera, and he managed to bring fresh blood in the writing team for sentai series. Junki Takegami was the main writer for that show, and it would be his first Super Sentai series as a main writer; he would be later involved in GogoV, Gaoranger and Go-onger as main writer, Gingaman, Dekaranger and Boukenger as secondary writer. He wrote 22 episodes. Naruhisa Arakawa was back as a secondary writer, after Jetman, Zyuranger, Dairanger, Kakuranger and Carranger. He wrote 11 episodes. More importantly, Megaranger was the first sentai with Yasuko Kobayashi involved. She was a secondary writer, but would become later one of the more creative writers in sentai, as main writer of shows like Gingaman, Timeranger and Shinkenger, and she would also become later a major Kamen Rider writer, being main writer of Ryuki, Den-O and OOO. She wrote 13 episodes. Shigeru Yanagawa wrote the remaining episodes. As main writer, Takegami let a lot the secondary writers be involved in important episodes; the majors Megasilver and the Guirail/Megavoyager arc were written by Kobayashi and the finale was written by Arakawa. With a writing team including Arakawa, Kobayashi and Takegami, Megaranger was really the sentai series with the creative writing team that would be really important in sentai in the following years.
Now, let's review the different elements of Megaranger:
The five main heroes were five high school students from Moboroshi High School that became Megaranger because, as they were involved during the first Nejirejia attack, they were the only ones available to wear the digital changers, and fight. However, despite being young, they did their best as heroes, and all of them had really different personalities:
- Kenta Date/ Megared : the typical slacker student, last of the class , who cares more about playing games and eating barbecued meat than studying or being serious ; however, he's still very loyal to his friends, as seen in many episodes, and he never hesitates to fight to save people he cares for, even if he may be often pretty reckless.
- Kouichiro Endou/ Megablack : Megared's foil: the very serious student, who's even more serious than some of his teachers : he's very strict, both to himself and to others, and he would like to have a very disciplined sentai team with him, but he ends up being annoying even to the most seriosu ones of his firends, like Shun and Chisato. However, he cares a lot for his friends, and feels responsible whenever ones of his teammates is hurt. He has a little brother he cares a lot for, who likes soccer.
- Shun Namiki/ Megablue: the smartest of the team, and the most skilled in computer use. At first, he was pretty aloof, more interested in his dream of becoming a computer graphic artist than his friends, but he quickly realized how important friendship was. Despite being very smart, he's not as strict as Kouichiro, and he's more ready to have fun.
- Chisato Jougasaki/ Megayellow : A fun and smart girl (she's one of the best in her class) who wants to become a photographer. She's always ready to help people, and she also has a pretty badass grandma who wants her to marry. Like Shun, despite being smart, she's not as serious as Kouichiro. She has a pretty singing voice. She seems to like a lot Kouichiro, and often hangs out with him. She has been shown to have a rivalry with Shibolena.
- Miku Imamura/ Megapink. A pretty fun girl, who, like Kenta is a slacker and wants to have fun, instead of studying hard, even if unlike Kenta, she may have potential. She's very cheerful, but sometimes, her goofiness may lead to trouble, like when she wants to eat diet crepes or when she believes Yuusaku is about to die. However, like the others, she's very involved into her Megaranger job.
In episode 24, a sixth hero appeared: Megasilver (who started the trend of having the additional hero being metal colored) (another concept that started with Mega)
Yuusaku Hayakawa/ Megasilver : unlike the others Megaranger, he's not a high school student, but worked with the INET company which created all the technology used by the Megarangers. He's a brilliant engineer, being involved in the making of the Megaranger suit, and, more importantly, of the Megavoyager mechas, and also his personal mecha, the Megawinger. Despite being a genuis, he's pretty much reckless, and not always very serious, and more often than not, Professor Kubota scolds him. At first, his prototype Megasilver changer only allowed him to stay in the Megasilver suit for two and a half minute, but he later improved it to allow him to stay longer as Megasilver. He often feels like the big brother of the high school Megarangers.
- Professor Eikichi Kubota: The scientist who created the Mega suits, he's the mentor of the Megaranger, being the one who allowed them to use the digitizers. He's like a father figure to them, always ready to share his wisdom, caring a lot for his team, but he has no hesitation scolding them when he sees their carelessness, usually Kenta or Yuusaku. He's also skilled at playing the trumpet. However, Kubota is also a man who has seen his best friend, Dr Samejima, being lost in the Negirejia dimension, not being able to stop him, and he feels huge guilt about it. His guilt would be even bigger, when he realized that his former friend has become the evil Doctor Hinelar, the main Nejirejia commander. However, he always does everything he can to protect the Earth, notably by as chief of staff of the Galaxy Mega crew team.
Other supporting characters include INET staff members, and some students and teachers of Moboroshi high school.
The Nejirejia: invaders from another dimensions, who want to invade Earth from their base, the Grand Nejiros, and turn it into a twisted (Nejire means "twisted in Japanese) world, and having no hesitation into destroying humanity
King Javious I : the leader of the Nejirejia: he's the one who made Dr Samejima, his main scientist, in the Nejiregia once he came into the twisted dimension, under the Dr Hinelar name. He's pretty impatient towards his followers, especially after their failures, and he's the one who called Guirail to help Dr Hinelar and his team into Earth invasion. However, he didn't realize that Dr Hinelar was plotting to overthrow him, using the Nejirangers who were draining his energy. Once the Nejirangers were destroyed, Javious I was destroyed as well, with Dr Hinelar becoming the leader of the Nejiregia.
Dr Hinelar: the main scientist in the Nejirejia: he was first known as Dr Samejima, and was Pr Kubota's colleague and friend. However, when one experiment involving his daughter Shizuka resulted in her death, he was shunned by the scientific community as reckless, and as a result, became obsessed into discovering a new dimension, the Negirejia dimension. After discovering it, and being offered by its ruler, Javious I to continue his scientific experiments, he decided to explore it, against Kubota's wishes, seeing that as too dangerous. However, he couldn't stop his colleague, who went into the twisted dimension and became there Dr Hinelar, chief scientist and the one involved the most into Earth invasion. He created his robotic followers, Shibolena, Yugande and Bibidebi, and cares for them, especially the two former. When Guileel's actions resulted in Yugande being damaged, he transformed him into a mindless destruction machine. He's also the one who created the Nejirebeasts, using modified DNA, and he created the Nejirangers using a technology pretty similar to the INET technology used for the Megaranger suits. He is filled with hate towards the humanity notably because of his past and how the scientific community treated him. He despises humans, especially Dr Kubota, whom he personally hates (notably because Kubota's concept of protective suits was chosen over his concept of modification of the human body) , and wants to show how superior his science is compared to theirs. He tried a lot of twisted plans to conquer Earth and destroy the Megarangers, using Nejirebeasts, the Nejirangers, evil counterparts of the Megarangers, , and even had a plan of turning humans into data cards after luring them into a Hinealr coty, a city he created. In the finale, after losing his most beloved creations, Yugande and Shibolena, he tried to attack personally the Megarangers in Earth, but he realized that because of his prolonged life in the Nejirejia dimension, he couldn't prevent having his body being twisted in Earth. At first, he tried to use a new body, to no avail. However, he tried to destroy the Megarangers in the Death Nejiros, a transformed version of the Grand Nejiros. However, as he was about to be defeated by the Megaranger and his own body which was betraying him, he decided to self-destruct the Grand Nejiros and kill the Megaranger in the Megavoyager at the same time. While he died in the big explosion, the Megaranger were able to survive to go to their graduation.
Shibolena: a female cyborg built by Dr Hinelar, modeled after his dead daughter. She's a cruel and sadistic commander, feeling pleasure at seeing humans suffer in her devious plots. She's also a deadly fighter. She's very loyal to Dr Hinelar, that she sees as her father, and also cares a lot for Yugande, being pretty furious when Guileel used him as a shield to protect himself from the Megarangers, and as a result, being pretty happy in Hinelar's revenge. She was eventually destroyed while protecting Yugande from Megared's attack, exploding after going back to Dr Hinelar to inform him of Yugande's defeat, and then exploding after calling Hinelar "father"
Yugande: a green warrior robot, built by Dr Hinelar. He's a ruthless warrior, very devoted to his creator Dr Hinelar, always wanting to fight and destroy his master's enemies, the Megaranger. He has been damaged several times first by Megared in episode 8, then as a result of Guileel's actions, who merged with him to attack the Megaranger, only to leave him being destroyed by the heroes's attack. Each time he's been rebuilt even more powerful by Dr Hinelar. In episode 50, he used a special ship which made him take a red and even more powerful form, to finally destroy the Megarangers, damaging several of their mechas in the process. However, he's finally defeated and destroyed once and for all by Megared.
Guileel : a devious Nejirejia commander appearing in episode 19 who came at Javious's request to assist Dr Hinelar in Earth invasion. He's a pretty cruel commander, even usng the most underhanded plots in order to invade Earth and get the favors of Javious I. However, when he decided to merge with Yugande to fight the Megaranger in a more powerful body, only to leave Yugande badly damaged, he suffered from Dr Hinelar's wrath, who lured him into taking a capsule supposed to make him even stronger, but resulted in him losing his mind, by being overwhelmed by energy. After attacking the city, and damaging the Galaxy Mega, with even part of him becoming a separate monste entity, he's finally destroyed by the Megaranger using the Megavoyager.
Bibidebi: a small creature with bat like wings modified by Dr Hinelar into making the Nejirebeast grow bigger thanks to the enlarging virus
The Nejirangers: Five monsters, created from Dr Hinelar and using twisted versions of the Megaranger suits to become Nejired, Nejiblack, Nejiblue, Nejiyellow and Nejipink. They were very powerful monsters, inflicting a huge defeat to the Megaranger in their first fight. However, each one was pretty obsessed into defeating their matching Megaranger, and that obsession lead them into arguing with each other and not having a solid teamwork, and that helped the Megaranger defeating them. They used Javious's life force as an energy source, and their purpose was to both destroy the Megaranger and Javious. Nejipink was defeated in episode 40, blue in episode 41, and the others in episode 43. However, their ghost were still there, and still obsessed into destroying the Megarangers, using Hinelar's data card machine to resurrect and bringing back the Megarangers who had been turned into cards. However, they ended up as datacards themselves, that Dr Hinelar kept
Nejirebeasts: the Monsters of the Week, created by Dr Hinelar. They have an animal theme (except in a few cases, like Baranejire), and are created from modified DNA. After Guileel's defeat, he was even able to make even stronger Nejirebeasts, the psycho Nejilars, still animal themed.
Kunekune: the twisted Mooks from Nejiregia. One episode had a boss Kunekune who was able to get bigger by having other Kunekune merging with him.
Each Megaranger has his special weapon: Red has the Drill Sniper, which became upgraded later into the Drill Sniper Custom, Black the Mega Rod, Blue the Mega Tomahawk, Yellow the Megasling and Pink the Megacapture. The latter four can be merged into the Multi Attack Rifle which is used with the Drill Sniper Custom to destroy the monsters from Nejiregia. Moreover, each ranger has a gun like weapon, the Megasniper. Megasilver has his personal weapon, the Silver Blazer.
The Megaranger also have the Cyber sliders, which allows them to move through space, and the Digitank, an armored vehicle to fight on the ground.
The Megaranger's mechas have pretty much a spaceship motif. An interesting element is that the rangers didn't have a personal mecha at first, but were using transforming mechas made from one or two separate elements.
Their first robot was the Galaxy Mega, resulting from the fusing of two mechas, the Megashuttle (which made the head) and the INET Megaship (which made the remaining parts of the robot). It wasn't a mere robot, but the transformed form of the INET headquarters, with plenty of staff people working in it.
Then, in episode 19, a new mecha, the Delta Mega appeared, and also was a spaceship like mecha who could transform into a robotic from. It is able to combine with the Galaxy Mega to make an even stronger robot, the Super Galaxy Mecha.
In episode 32, news mechas created by Yuusaku/ Megasilver appeared, the Voyager Machines. Each ranger had his personal mecha, Red the Rovoyager-1, Black the Shuttel Voyager-2, Blue, the Rocket Voyager-3, Yellow the saucer Voyager-4 and Pink the Tank-Voyager-5. The five mechas are able to combine into the Mega Voyager robot, which was first used to destroy Guileel and would be eventually used in the final fight.
Lastly, Megasilver has his own mecha that he himself created, the Mega winger, another space shuttle mecha which could transform into a robot. It can donate its wings to the Megavoyager, transforming it into the Wing Megavoyager.
Except the Galaxy mechas, most of the mechas were destoyed through the series during the final arc.
The story pretty much describes the fight between the Megaranger and the INET team against the Nejiregia, with the battle being even fiercer as the series progresses.
Episode 1, 2 and 3: first attack of the Nejiregia, the five high school students become the Megarangers, the Galaxy Mega appears and Hinelar modifies Bibidebi to make himenlarge the defeated Nejirebeasts
Episode 4-18 : first battles Megarangers vs Nejirejia: among notable episodes, episode 8 with a big MegaRed vs Yugande fight, and Shibolena is involved a lot, especially in episodes 4 and 11
Episode 19-32: the Guileel era: Guileel appears as an additional Nejiregia villain, appearance of the Delta Mega. Introduction of Megasilver in episode 24. In episode 30, Guileel shows his true colors by using Yugande, even causing him to be damaged. Dr Hinelar then destroys Guileel's mind in the following episode, and he's finally killed by the Megaranger using the newly introduced Megavoyager
Episodes 33-37 : transitional era: Hinelar creates the Pysychonejilar neasts, upgraded Nejirebeasts, Silver managed to have a more efficient suit, first appearance of the Megawinger
Episodes 38-43 : the Nejiranger arc: Kubota learns that Hinelar is none other than his former colleague Samejima: Javious is destroyed, Hinelar becomes leader of the Nejiregia
Episode 44-48: the Hinelar city plot
Episodes 49-51 : final plot: the Megaranger's identities are exposed and they become outcasts: Yugande, Shibolena are defeated, and eventually, Hinelar too. The five main heroes graduate.
When I think of Megaranger, my first thought is that it's a pretty solid show. The main storyline isn't very complex and is pretty much the standard heroes vs evil fight, the interesting stuff comes in the details, and the show is amazingly well done, heroes, supporting characters, villains, mechas; and storytelling. Mixing the high school and science/space motif was strange, but pretty well done, and Toei would remember it later for Kamen Rider Fourze.
The heroes are all likable with very distinct personalities. It's interesting that at first, the plot seems to stall a little. Indeed, after the intro arc, it doesn't happen much during the first 18 episodes, during which the main characters are explored and pretty well fleshed, with even more characterization in later episodes. Likewise, Megasilver is a nice contrast with the other heroes and is a good link between them and the INET team, as both a teammate and a INET worker. He has a fun personality and he made the team even more interesting.
Kubota is one of the best mentors in sentai history, being both serious but also fun, with his fatherly behaviour. He's also very important in the storyline, because of his link with the main villain, Dr Hinelar.
The Nejirejia are pretty much standard villains, but they have some interesting elements. Dr Hinelar, the megalomaniac mad scientist is an expy of former evil sentai mad scientists, like Dr Man and Lee Keflen, and his link to Dr Kubota gives him depth. Yugande and Shibolena are his devoted servants; Shibolena has a lot in common with former villainesses like Ley Nefel from Flashman, as a daughter like creation from the main evil scientist. Yugande is the faithful warrior. Guileel is the classic treacherous villains, but it's interesting how he's outsmarted by Hinelar, the main villain. Lastly, the Nejirangers are probably the most well done "evil ranger team " of sentai history, with their evil but also obsessive personality and their remarkable design.
The Spaceship mecha theme is very original, given all the mechas have that theme. Unlike most sentai series of that era, the main robot isn't the result of the fusion of the personal mechas of each hero; they have to wait until the Megavoyager arc to have individual mechas. The design of the mechas and robots are very well done.
Megaranger uses also very well its technological theme, and it's important how scientists are very important characters in that series.
Megaranger has a pretty good storytelling. Even if in the first 18 episodes, the plot pretty stalls, the characters, heroes and villains alike are well developed during those episodes. Starting with episode 19, and Guileel's arrival, the story begins much more to go forward, with new enemies, a new hero, new robots. The plot escalates even further starting with the Nejiranger arc, and after episode 38, there is no filler episode anymore, and the intensity of the conflict reaches its climax in the final arc.
Conclusion: Megaranger is a very well done show, bringing a lot to the sentai franchise, with interesting themes, a new tone that would influence following shows like Gingaman, GogoV and Timeranger. Final score: 8.5/10
Trivia: Megasilver's actor, Shigeru Kanai had already played a regular hero in the Metal Hero franchise, G-Stag from B-Fighter. Masaya Matsukaze, Megablue's actor would appear later in several sentai shows, as an actor like in Shinkenger, and is also a seiyuu ; he notably voiced Endolf in Kyoryuger. Eri Tanaka (Megayellow) also was a regular in Kamen Rider Kuuga. She would appear later in Boukenger as Boukenyellow's mother. Megapink's actress, Mami Higashiyama would also appear in Boukenger as another ranger's mother, Boukensilver's, and she also appeared in Gaoranger vs Super Sentai. Megared's actor, Hayato Oshiba appeared in Kamen Rider Den-O and was the Legend hero from megaranger in Gokaiger. Both Oshiba and Matsukaze played Shurikenger's aliases in Hurricanger.